Communicating effectively as a couple is difficult. It takes constant effort to improve the lines of communication within your relationship. This couples communication exercise is going to help you better your communication skills by learning to ask the right questions, and actively listen to what your partner has to say. Before doing this exercise be sure to read our post on improving your communication as a couple.
At first active listening can feel pushy (intrusive) if you are not used to being asked to clarify your responses. Once it becomes a more natural conversation, start using these techniques to work out more complex topics.
This can be a daunting task, so let’s focus on something positive to get the ball rolling for this couples communication exercise. Here is how this will work.
Couples Communication Exercise 1: Active Listening
- Pick something you’d like to accomplish together over the next 6 months. For example:
- Learn to paint
- Learn to salsa dance
- Renovate the bathroom
- Run a half marathon
- After you’ve picked one goal you want to accomplish, ask each other a few of the following open ended questions. These will help you pick your main goal to accomplish.
- How will this goal improve our relationship?
- How will it improve us individually?
- How will we keep each other accountable while completing our goal?
- What are the steps we need to accomplish in the first week, month, 3 months?
- How confident do you feel about us completing this goal together?
- What are some obstacles that can get in our way?
- How much time per day / week can we dedicate to our goal?
- Answering the questions is the easy part. Actively listening to the answers your partner communicates is the tricky part. Let’s work on your listening skills.
- Listen completely to your partner’s answers. Look directly into your partner’s eyes, quiet your mind, and focus 100% of your attention on your partner. When your partner is talking just listen to their voice.
- Summarize your partner’s answers to one of the questions above in your own words.
- Are you both on the same page?
- If not, try asking the 5 WHY’s. This is where you keep asking “WHY” to the answer of the question 5 times. By the fifth time you should be down to the root of the answer.
Here is an example of how we did this exercise:
What do we want to accomplish over the next 6 months?
Learn to speak Spanish
- Katie: How do you think this will improve our relationship?
- Chris: Since we’re planning a trip to Costa Rica soon, being able to speak Spanish will make our trip a lot less stressful.
- Katie: So being able to speak to the locals is going to make us a better couple?
- Chris: It’s more about removing the stress of struggling with communicating with the locals.
- Katie: Why do you feel communicating with the locals is going to improve our relationship?
- Chris: If we can better communicate with the locals, it means we can have a better time together.
- Katie: Why do you think it would mean a better time together?
- Chris: Because if we’re not struggling with getting information from the locals we can find better activities to do and if we need help from the locals it won’t be an issue.
- Katie: So because we can speak decent Spanish to the locals it’ll make our trip less stressful. Therefore we can spend more time focusing on each other and our vacation.
- Chris: Right! And I think we would both much rather spend our time enjoying our time together without the additional stress of being in a strange foreign country.
- Katie: If I understand you properly. Lessening the stress of being in a foreign country means a better vacation, which means we’re going to have a happier time. And happy times will lead to a happier relationship.
- Chris: There we go! We’re on the same page now!
Remember, the purpose of this couples communication exercise is to open the channels of communication. It can be frustrating at first. Active listening is not something we’re really taught. So be patient with each other.
The key to successful communication in your relationship is actively listening to what your partner says, and ensuring you are both on the same page. As long as you’re both engaged in actively listening to what your partner says this exercise can be easily applied to any topic of conversation.